The East-West Shrine Bowl started practice on Saturday, and the first team to practice was the East squad. In this practice, we already had several prospects improving their draft stock. This group is led by Colorado State defensive end Mo Kamara and Vanderbilt punter Matt Hayball. In addition to highlighting those two players, this article also looks at what position the Carolina Panthers are looking at, gives an update on Jordan Travis, and much more.
Top performer: The player who impressed me the most on the East team was Colorado State defensive end Mo Kamara. He has ridiculous explosion off the ball, and might be the fastest player off the ball I have ever seen play live. This ability to get off the ball is the main reason he was able to record 13 sacks this season. While he lacks the power to hold up against the run, his quickness off the ball does allow him to get in the opponents in the backfield to make tackles for loss.
My guy: One of the players that I would stand on the table for late on day three is Oklahoma’s Drake Stoops. What I like so much about him is how he consistently gets separation due to crafty route running. He displayed this ability several times on Saturday from the slot receiver spot, including one where he completely turned around the cornerback. In addition to his route running, he also displays sure hands. I would not be the least bit surprised if Stoops had a similar career to Julian Edelman who was named to the New England Patriots All-2010s Team.
Sleeper: A true sleeper in the 2024 NFL Draft is Furman tight end Mason Pline. Pline started his career off at Ferris State as a basketball player and didn't play football until 2021. In 2022 he saw limited playing time only catching two passes on the season. However, he transferred to Furman this year and caught 32 passes on the year including 9 in the season finale against Montana. While he has a long way to go until he can contribute in the NFL his 6-foot-7 260-pound size and soft hands could make him an ideal candidate for the practice squad.
2024 East-West Shrine Bowl: Thoughts and observations
Good day for Wallace: The offensive lineman who had the best day was Penn State offensive tackle Caedan Wallace. His highlight of the day was when he pulled a nice push-pull move on his defender, which sent his man to the ground. I currently have an undrafted free agent grade on Wallace but if he keeps performing like he did today that will change.
Update on Jordan Travis: Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis was throwing the ball before practice and mentioned how he has begun light throwing recently. He also mentioned that he still feels tightness in his ankle when throwing and is still wearing a boot. While Travis still has a long way to go it is a positive sign that he is progressing in rehab.
Specialist impresses: The most impressive special teams player on Saturday was Vanderbilt punter Matt Hayball. He boomed punt after punter sending several through the rafters. He also had good hang time on most of his punts. This should not come as a surprise as was named a second-team All-American this year averaging 47.6 yards on his punts. One team who was focusing on him was the Washington Commanders, which should not come as a surprise as Commanders punter Tress Way had his struggles this season.
Carolina focusing on the offensive line: One of the biggest needs for the Carolina Panthers this offseason is the offensive guard, so it should not come as a surprise that the team paid a lot of attention to this position during day one of the East-West Shrine bowl practice. One player that could be a find as an undrafted free agent is Michigan’s Karsen Barnhart.
Steelers focusing on the defensive line: While the Carolina Panthers had a focus on the offensive line the Pittsburgh Steelers were paying close attention to the defensive line. A defensive tackle on the East squad that could make sense for the Steelers as an undrafted free agent is Cincinnati’s Jowon Briggs.
Several players sitting out: Several players on the East roster did not participate in the action on the field, and just attended the event to meet with teams. On the East squad, those players include Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis, Kentucky wide receiver Tayvion Robinson, Louisiana offensive lineman Nathan Thomas, Miami defensive tackle Leonard Taylor, Utah defensive end Jonah Elliss, and Texas A&M outside linebacker Edgerrin Cooper. It should be noted that Travis is the only player who showed up to practice.